Icasa puts MTR rates under review again

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Telecommunications regulator Icasa has just been in touch to say to let us know that it’s reviewing its policies on mobile termination rates (MTRs), and inviting the public to comment.

MTRs, lest we forget, were at the centre of a dramatic showdown between operators and ICASA a couple of years ago. The MTR rate is what operators are allowed to charge to connect calls to and from other networks – so if I call MTN from a Telkom line, Telkom is billed a small MTR fee for the privilege of letting its customers talk to someone elses.

Small operators – Cell C and Telkom – pushed for an asymmetrical deal in which MTRs they were charged were lower than those they were allowed to charge, arguing that high MTRs gave the big networks a comeptitive advantage as they could absorb the cost through economies of scale.

Eventually, Icasa agreed (and lawyers rejoiced), and cut the price of all MTRs too. It seems pretty clear that its decision has had a big effect on the market. Both Vodacom and MTN have said in their annual reports that MTR cuts had a noteiceable effect on their bottom line, and the increased competition has certainly helped to reduce the cost of voice calls (also impacting the bottom line of the two big companies).

Icasa’s review looks procedural, but it’ll be fun to see the reactions from the market.

Watch this space.

From the Icasa statement:

Icasa is requesting licensees to submit all relevant information as determined by the Authority for this purpose in terms of section 4(3)(g) of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act No. 13 of 2000 read with regulation 9 of the Regulations on Standard Terms and Conditions for Individual Licensees, Government Gazette No. 39875, as amended.

A copy of the questionnaire is available on the Authority’s website at http://www.icasa.org.za and in the library at No. 164 Katherine Street, Pin Mill Farm (Ground Floor, Block D), Sandton between 09h00 and 16h00, Monday to Friday only.

All licensees must complete and submit the questionnaire to the Authority on or before 28 February 2017.

Adam Oxford

Adam Oxford

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.